(NEXSTAR) — As Nintendo releases its latest installment in the iconic “The Legend of Zelda” game series on Friday (“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom“), the new chapter brings new interest in protagonist Link and the lore of the kingdom of Hyrule. But there’s one behind-the-scenes detail of the “Zelda” world you may not know: how the titular Princess Zelda got her name.
First released to a Nintendo platform in 1987, “The Legend of Zelda,” was a smash hit and set the stage for a franchise that would go on to include 19 main series entries to date. But as popular as it is, there’s still a well-worn internet joke that many who are unfamiliar with the games mistakenly believe Link is named “Zelda.” So just where does that Zelda name come from?
As told by “Zelda” co-creator Shigeru Miyamoto, in the book “Hyrule Historia,” it all dates back to the game’s creation, when Miyamoto was creating a detailed backstory for the game and its characters. When it came time to name the princess — who was described as a timeless beauty — Miyamoto writes a PR planner said, “There’s a famous American author whose wife’s name is Zelda. How about giving that name to the eternal beauty?”
That author was none other than “The Great Gatsby” writer F. Scott Fitzgerald — and the wife was the eccentric and glamorous Zelda Fitzgerald.
Though a writer in her own right, Fitzgerald was mainly considered an American socialite, especially in 1920s New York City. Characters in Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise,” “The Beautiful and the Damned” and “Tender is the Night” were modeled after Zelda, whose maiden name was Sayre. Though today, “The Great Gatsby” is likely Fitzgerald’s most famous work, the writer actually based its female lead, Daisy Buchanan, on his girlfriend prior to Zelda.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writings catapulted the duo to Jazz Age notoriety. Zelda’s depictions would earn her lasting reverence as a modern woman and the quintessential — and first — “flapper.” The Fitzgeralds’ later marriage was less than posh and Zelda spent her final years in a psychiatric hospital before her accidental death in a 1948 fire.
Though Fitzgerald was only 47 when she died, she’s continued to loom as a figure in popular culture. She’s served as the basis for at least one song (The Eagles’ “Witchy Woman”) and made appearances as a character in films and TV. Actress Christina Ricci portrayed a 1920s-era Fitzgerald in Amazon Studios’ 10-episode period drama “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” of which Fitzgerald was the main protagonist. In 2015, Ricci told USA Today she hoped the series helped contextualize Fitzgerald’s sensationalized and troubled life.
The narrative around Zelda has for decades been that of a doomed beauty, akin to a proto-Marilyn Monroe, but more modern takes on her life have attempted to re-assess the eventual writer and painter’s life with a more accurate lens.
“People really liked her: she was surprising, intelligent, shrewd, funny and loved a good party,” American literature professor told the Guardian in 2016. “She also liked to be the center of attention, and so had her detractors too. These things combined to make her a legend.”
And with yet another “Legend of Zelda” game out in the world, Zelda Fitzgerald’s legend goes on.
Miyamoto writes in “Hyrule Historia” that he ultimately loved the idea of naming the game’s princess “Zelda” and Princess Zelda has gone on to feature, in some way, in the games ever since — including the latest one.
“Tears of the Kingdom,” a sequel to 2017’s “Breath of the Wild,” has already received some rave reviews in the gaming world, receiving 10/10 scores from both GameSpot and IGN. All-in-all, the game had a 96 Metacritic score based on 86 critical reviews as of Thursday.
“This sandbox is bigger, richer, and somehow even more ambitious… a dizzying amount of depth further fleshing out the intoxicating exploration that made the original so captivating,” raved IGN‘s Tom Marks.
“Tears” ranks among the most anticipated video game releases of the year, with many stores, including some GameStop stores holding midnight release events. Some social media users even documented the long lines outside stores, including one Seattle gamer who snapped a photo of a line snaking outside of a local mall at 3 p.m.
In anticipation of the “Tears of the Kingdom” release, Nintendo released a new version of the Nintendo Switch OLED model featuring a game-inspired design, which retails for $359.99. Additionally, two new “Tears” accessories, a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller ($74.99) and a carrying case ($24.99) also release Friday.
“Zelda” fans across the world rejoice: Link’s latest adventure has finally arrived.